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Still Waiting for the Retail Sales Tax Boon Promised by the Parking Garage, Alameda Theatre

On Tuesday night, City Council will review the quarterly sales tax report for the quarter ended September 30, 2008. There’s still no evidence that the Alameda Civic Center Parking Structure and Alameda Theater complex are providing the retail sales tax boon that was promised to Alameda residents.

Sales tax for the three months of July, August and September of 2008 was $1,345,946, down 4.9% from the same quarter in 2007. Transportation took a big hit, declining 28% due to a decrease in vehicle sales. In the “Park Street – South of Lincoln” district, where the parking garage and Alameda Theater and Cineplex are located, sales tax receipts were $164,122, down 1.7% from $166,923 in the same quarter the previous year.

The chart below shows the year-over-year quarterly change in sales tax receipts for the “Park Street – South of Lincoln” district. The two green bars at the right represent the second quarter and third quarter of 2008 during which the parking garage and the theater, respectively, opened.

Parking Garage and Theatre Not Yet Making a Dent in Sales Tax Revenue

Parking Garage and Theatre Not Yet Making a Dent in Sales Tax Revenue

Given the promises by our elected officials, City staff and civic boosters of the retail sales tax manna from heaven that would fall into city coffers upon the opening of the theatre complex, we would expect that these numbers would be a lot more dramatic. The changes for Q2 and Q3 of 2008, the first full quarters for both the theater and parking garage to have been open for business, look pretty much in line with the previous quarters, before they opened. We might have expected increase in sales tax from the previous year to be spectacular, but it’s not.

And the “Park Street – South of Lincoln” share of sales tax revenue is pretty flat. It’s not as if that district’s share of sales tax is growing dramatically relative to other areas in Alameda even while overall revenue is flat or declining. Here is that district’s share of overall Alameda sales tax over the past few quarters:

Quarter Park Street – South of Lincoln Share of Sales Tax
Q3’08 12.2%
Q2’08 12.3%
Q1’08 10.4%
Q4’07 12.2%
Q3’07 11.8%
Q2’07 12.0%
Q1’07 11.9%
Q4’06 12.6%
Q3’06 11.9%
Q2’06 11.3%
Q1’06 12.4%

So the theater district’s share of sales tax revenue over the past three years has been pretty flat, holding to a tight range of 2.2%, and we have yet to see any dramatic upturn that we can safely attribute to the theater and parking garage. (City Staff reports provide no explanation for the dip down to 10.4% for the second quarter of 2008 – it may be subject to a revision in an upcoming report, or it may be attributable to street closures and construction in the district due to the parking garage and theater.) The Alameda Civic Center Parking Garage and Alameda Cineplex are not yet delivering the promised boon in sales tax revenue to the City’s coffers.

Meanwhile, the redevelopment agency, and the bonds used to foot the bill for the theater continue to siphon roughly $3.78 million per year from the general fund.

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